University of Utah fans didn't suffer in silence after Brigham Young University quarterback Max Hall said he "doesn't respect" the "classless" football program and university. They took to the Web.
Hall, 24, let loose a diatribe against the Utes in a news conference after BYU beat Utah 26-23 in overtime Saturday.
"I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, I hate their fans, I hate everything," he said, saying fans threw beer on his family last year.
Within hours, Utes fans launched several Facebook pages and groups, and thousands signed on and joined. By Sunday evening, a Facebook page called "Max Hall hates me and thinks I'm classless," and another called "Max Hall is classless" had about 2,500 fans each, and growing. A fan page for Hall, by contrast, had about 1,400.
But BYU fans also stepped up to virtually defend Hall with pages and groups like "I back up everything Max Hall said," and "Max Hall is my hero."
For Utah fan Ryan Springer, the comments reflect the rivalry itself, often called the "Holy War," between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-owned BYU and the state-owned U. of U.
"Usually it's kind of a playful back and forth, it's a good rivalry. For Max Hall to say what he said injects a whole new level of animosity that I think makes it unhealthy," Springer said, calling the comments "arrogant" and "self-righteous."
Springer, an attorney in Salt Lake City who attended Utah as an undergraduate and BYU for law school, watches the U.-BYU games with his Blackberry handy, so it was natural to head for Facebook and write a blog entry -- a joke news release about how church teachings about "doing good to all men" don't apply to the Utes.
Also online was B.J. Oldroyd, a 26-year-old from Lindon, who joined "Max Hall said what everyone was thinking," a group with more than 100 members as of Sunday evening. For Oldroyd, Hall's comments were said in the heat of the moment, and stemmed from the frustration of feeling under attack from all sides for his play in the past.
"If you're a true BYU fan, you really don't like Utah," at least during the game, he said. "[The diatribe] doesn't reflect the church, it doesn't reflect the school. It reflects his emotions, his passion for what has happened and his frustration with his previous experience."